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Darwin on the Palouse

Time is whipping by, I can tell — Darwin Day is next week! I’m going to have to whip up a talk for this event real soon, I think: it’s Darwin on the Palouse, and I’ll be talking at Washington State University in Pullman, WA a week from Thursday. They’ve paired me up with Dan Dennett that evening…which is daunting, since I know which of us people will be lining up to see. On Friday, it’ll be Jen McCreight and Fred Edwords speaking, so even more competition.

It should be a couple of good evenings of diverse and interesting talks, so all you folk in Eastern Washington and Idaho should make the trip.

Oh, and if you can’t make the February event, you could always drive a bit farther north in May and take another shot at me at Imagine No Religion 2, in Kamloops, BC. There I’ll only be standing in the shadow of Lawrence Krauss and a half dozen other luminaries.

(Also on Sb)

Comments

  1. Rip Steakface says

    Damn shame I live in the sane part of Washington. Oh well, I’ll be visiting Pullman and Moscow, Idaho about a month from now myself for the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.

  2. kingdomoffife says

    “Darwin Day is next week!” . . . Darwin Day is Feb. 12th, so that is more than a week.

  3. says

    Wait a minute…isn’t Darwin Day Feb 12? That’s two weeks (minus a day)! Slow down, there, PZ!!! (Granted, Darwin Day activities, like the one mentioned, are going to be happening next week, prior to the official day.)

  4. says

    @ Steakface. You know I enjoy visiting the west side of our lovely state as much as the next guy but there is absolutely no reason for you to be stirring up trouble by referring to it as the “sane part of Washington.” I’ve spent a decent amount of time on both sides of the cascades and you’re no different from us so how about a little more compassion and a little less arrogance?

  5. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Improbably enough, the Palouse has been the setting of several great strides in evolutionary biology.You must at the very least give a nod to the important work done their by Marion Ownbey on Tragopogon and the fossil nucleotide sequence of Magnolia latahensis from just across the border.

  6. RFW says

    Be sure take a helicopter ride to view the famous channeled scablands from above. Yes, it’s geology, not biology, but still extremely interesting. A copy of “The Roadside Geology of Washington” would be helpful in understanding what you see; you can get it from Amazon for very little.

    Also, the events that created the scablands are more than 6 kiloyears ago.

    I feel strongly enough about this recommendation to tell you to take an extra day in the area if necessary to fit a helicopter ride into your schedule.

  7. spamamander, hellmart survivor says

    @6

    As a lifetime dry-sider I have no qualms about the wet-side being referred to as the sane side of the state. I’m in Doc Hastings’s district… enough said.

    That being said, I now have to hope the ex will be back in town so I can give him the mini-mes and jet to Pullman.

  8. supermental says

    He may be Tufts quality prof but I think you can hold your own against Dennett.
    “Pharyngula, as the top-ranked blog written by a scientist.”

  9. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    A good friend of mine lives in Moscow, and he’s going both nights. I usually make my way down there to visit every now and then. Normally something like this would be a perfect excuse to impose on my friends’ hospitality, but at that time I’m very likely going to be on my way up to the Arctic for a few weeks.

    Maybe if I’m not a frozen lump by the time I get back, I can make it to Kamloops in May.

  10. Rey Fox says

    I’ve spent a decent amount of time on both sides of the cascades and you’re no different from us

    Oh really? Look at the breakdown in legislature votes for same-sex marriage and tell us that.

  11. Aquaria says

    There I’ll only be standing in the shadow of Lawrence Krauss and a half dozen other luminaries.

    Uh huh. Sure. That’s why you have the largest color photo in the screen capture I see there. :P

  12. coralline says

    Brilliant! Wish I could make it, PZ. My time spent at WSU (and taking some classes at UI) was great.

    Say hi to Scott Minnich and Doug Wilson, and remember that not everyone in the region is a crazy nutter like they.

  13. ikesolem says

    Darwin Day? Please tell me that’s not for real… but if it is, suggested topics:

    “Darwin’s Views on Hybridization”

    Quote: . . . I was struck with the fact that, in South America, men of complicated descent between Negroes, Indians, and Spaniards, seldom had, whatever the cause might be, a good expression. Livingstone—and a more unimpeachable authority cannot be quoted,—after speaking of a half-caste man on the Zambesi, described by the Portuguese as a rare monster of inhumanity, remarks, “It is unaccountable why half-castes, such as he, are so much more cruel than the Portuguese, but such is undoubtedly the case.” An inhabitant remarked to Livingstone, “God made white men, and God made black men, but the Devil made halfcastes.”

    Source: On the Variation of Plants and Animals Under Domestication, Vol 2

    Or perhaps this title:

    “Darwin’s Views on the Mechanism of Inheritance”

    Darwin’s Lamarkian pangenesis concept is on a par with Isaac Newton’s alchemical efforts to make gold. Gregor Mendel came far closer to understanding the mechanism of inheritance than Darwin did, so why no “Mendel Day?” All the other people involved in DNA research would need their own days, too – Avery, Chargoff, Franklin, Watson, Crick, etc…

    “Evolutionary Science Day” sounds better, doesn’t it?

  14. KG says

    ikesolem,

    Your comparison with Newton makes exactly the opposite point to the one you apparently intend: Darwin, like Newton, is recognised for the deep, wide-ranging and long-lasting influence of his seminal contributions to science.

    Of course Darwin didn’t get everything right: nor does any creative scientist. However, he had a far greater influence on science than Mendel, and had two enormous successes:
    1) He accumulated such a vast range and depth of evidence for evolution that it swiftly became almost universally accepted by biologists.
    2) He realised, and again gathered a vast range of evidence for, the central importance of natural selection as the main mechanism of evolutionary change.
    He also made numerous other contributions to biology, geology and paleontology over a period of several decades. Mendel, by contrast, made effectively a single contribution, which was not recognised – indeed, it is doubtful whether he recognised its significance himself, as he made little attempt to publicise it, and abandoned his scientific work after a few years when he became abbot. Science is a social enterprise, and work which is not effectively communicated is practically useless. It is unlikely the history of science would have been very different if he had never lived. It would have been very different, and very considerably retarded, if Darwin had never done so.

  15. jritter says

    Having grown up in western Washington and now having lived in Pullman since 2002 (for undergrad and now graduate education) I can say that while the west side is definitely more sane, the Palouse is an oasis of sanity set against the backdrop of eastern Washington.

    That being said, I will definitely be in attendance.

  16. seagullsong says

    Hey Pharyngulites, I’ve been invited to a Darwin Day potluck! Any ideas on food to bring? So far I have two ideas: bake and decorate cookies in the shape of finches, or keep it old school and make a batch of Primordial Soup.

  17. doktorzoom says

    As an Idahoan, I just have to say I’m a little jealous that you guys get to argue about the relative sanity of just one side of the state.

  18. CuervodeCuero says

    Lined up for Kamloops. Spring better be on time this year, although maybe it doesn’t matter if we’re cooped up inside a convention centre.

    Dragging kinfolk along, including the youngun who’s been making noises that sound something like ‘crap’ and ‘religion’, accompanied by many scowls. It appears to be an independently developed variant of Myerese, so I’m hoping the venue will contain an articulation breakthrough.

    Prof Myers, do you have the March guest lecture event in Calgary still on? I haven’t heard anything definitive at this end as yet.

  19. Irene Delse says

    There I’ll only be standing in the shadow of Lawrence Krauss and a half dozen other luminaries.

    Uh huh. Sure. That’s why you have the largest color photo in the screen capture I see there. :P

    Aaaah, but Desiree Schell gets the central colour picture! Canadian luminaries get pride of place in Kamloops, BC ;-)

  20. drummer25 says

    @9 If the helicopter trip is not possible, you can take flight in a microlight over the scablands by going to HUGEfloods.com and clicking on the video there, without leaving your chair.

  21. says

    @ Rey Fox. Mr Steakface read that something cool was happening on the east side and instead of sharing in our excitment decided to deride us for living where we live. If you and him want to get all holier-than-thou over who is representing who in the legislature then pick a different forum because the people who are going to hear you on this site don’t deserve the attitude you’re giving. Do you really think I’m supposed to put up with someone acting like an asshole just because I live in a more conservative district than him?

  22. says

    Yes, Calgary is on. I’m even going to spend a leisurely couple of nights there since it’s during our spring break.

    HEY, WAIT A MINUTE…How come I keep getting invited to Canada over spring break? Don’t they have godless science lectures in Ft Lauderdale?

  23. ChasCPeterson says

    Gregor Mendel came far closer to understanding the mechanism of inheritance than Darwin did, so why no “Mendel Day?” All the other people involved in DNA research would need their own days, too – Avery, Chargoff, Franklin, Watson, Crick, etc…
    “Evolutionary Science Day” sounds better, doesn’t it?

    You seem confused. Darwin knew nothing about genetics or DNA, but did you know that there’s much more to Biology than DNA? It’s true! Darwin’s contributions were in some of those other parts. No, not the mechanisms of inheritance: he was admittedly ignorant on the subject and wrong when he speculated. That in no way diminishes how right he was about the conceptual aspects of biological evolution.

  24. carlie says

    did you know that there’s much more to Biology than DNA? It’s true! Darwin’s contributions were in some of those other parts.

    Chas, sometimes I love you.

  25. says

    did you know that there’s much more to Biology than DNA? It’s true! Darwin’s contributions were in some of those other parts.

    Genuine chortles

  26. ibyea says

    @KG
    Didn’t Wallace propose natural selection independently of Darwin at around the same time? So it is not like biology would have been retarded.

  27. Cyranothe2nd says

    Hey guys,

    I’m the adviser for the WSU Secular Cougs group, one of the groups hosting Darwin on the Palouse. If anyone wants to come but needs a ride or a room for a few days, please don’t hesitate to email me (my handle at gmail.com) or visit our Facebook page for help getting to the event. I know a lot of commenters are from the sane Western side of the state, but we’d really love for you to join us. :)

    Cheers!

    ~Jenae Reese